Curriculum Planning – Fundamentals of Standing


Grappling, regardless of if we intend to speak of wrestling, judo, Sambo, jiu-jitsu, or others, is fundamentally about learning to move in good posture and establishing angles that permit you to more easily attack while making it more difficult for your opponent to defend and/or counter attack. When your posture is taken out of alignment, you struggle to generate power and it becomes easier to move you around. That’s why kuzushi isn’t enough, you also need to be in good position to execute a throw or takedown yourself.

There are a few skills I’d emphasize for standing

  • Falling
  • Posture/stance, and moving in stance
  • Gripping/ties/contact – this is fundamentally about not extending and building frames we can use to create and maintain angles
  • Level changing & penetration steps
  • Defenses
  • Triangle points and vectors
  • The mechanics of specific throws & takedowns

Falling is hopefully self-evident. Before I throw you, you need to know how to fall.

Posture and stance are mostly just learning about back alignment and showing people how bad posture makes for an easy takedown or throw.

Gripping is insanely nuanced, so I tend to just talk about making the initial contact with the non-dominant hand or head and preventing the power hand from forming an effective grip.

Changing levels is pretty straight forward, but requires practice so folks do it by bending their knees rather than relying on hip hinging alone. Penetration steps are essentially moving while level changing and understaning the distance we need to enter for takedowns and throws.

Defenses are hands, head, hips, and funk. Gonzalo says “tricks” instead of “funk”. I debate which term I like more, but the flashy stuff should come after an understanding of layered defenses.

Triangle points are the notion of finding a point on the ground that forms an isosceles triangle (ideally an equilateral triangle) and putting them there. This applies to every throw and takedown I’ve ever learned. The triangle point moves as they move, so it’s important to be able to track it as we move such as in a rotational motion. I’ve heard triangle points used both for where to put their center of mass and for where to point the vector you’re controlling to take them down (see Scott Sonnon’s Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force for the concept of these vectors). For beginners I think it makes more sense to stick to the center of mass, but the vectors are useful for intermediate understanding.

If you understand all of the above concepts, learning specific techniques is largely a formality of understanding the mechanics of the technique and practicing it. It doesn’t really matter what throw is taught here. Single leg takedowns, double leg takedowns, and sweep singles are the bread-and-butter we do for wrestling. Matt likes to try to teach foot sweeps, but I favor hip throws and trips for beginners as they aren’t as dependent on a good sense of timing for the most part, but can be enhanced by it as folks get more confident in their standing game and develop a sense of timing for themselves.

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